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            Sheri Dew occupies a unique place in Mormondom: CEO of Deseret Book and never-married, her life’s trajectory puts her outside of the LDS norm for women, and yet at the same time she has been given—by the male Church leadership--the position and the influence to defend the Church to audiences within and without its membership.  Dew breaks so many stereotypes that her testimony of the Church carries a bit more sway on particular issues with particular audiences.  One of those audiences surely is women within the Church, and one of those issues surely is the topic of women’s relationship with the Church.  As a result, I think many, including myself, hoped that Dew would engage the issues raised in recent days among our people.  This has now come to pass, in the form of a volume called, Women and the Priesthood, published by Deseret Book this fall.  This book is not to be confused with the gag-inducing volume having a similar title—Woman and the Priesthood—by Rodney Turner, which book did so much harm among an earlier generation of LDS women and men.

            I’ve always enjoyed Sheri Dew’s talks, particularly in General Conference when she was a member of the General Relief Society presidency.  I remember commenting to my husband that she was the first female conference speaker I could ever remember who did not sound as if she were addressing a Primary sharing time meeting.  Her voice was clear, strong, and articulate.  No one went to the restroom or got a bite to eat when she spoke. She spoke straightforwardly, and she spoke of doctrine, and I think all LDS women stood a little taller after hearing her during those days.

            Women and the Priesthood is a faithful and good-hearted attempt to speak peace to the souls of women who are not at peace with how things are in the Church for women; it is possible this book is a response to the activities of those advocating for the ordination of women.  However, Dew herself states that she has never had any problem with the doctrine that only males are ordained to the priesthood (120).  This leaves her in the uncomfortable position of attempting to succor those with whom she cannot empathize.  This occasionally comes through in her word choice to describe those turbulent feelings others experience—a “sense of annoyance” (134), a “clamor” for women to be treated ‘equally’ with men” (2), and so forth.

              Perhaps those are the right words for an audience that does not feel pain on these issues, but they are probably not the right words for an audience which does.  (Though I suppose it is possible that Dew’s real audience is women like herself who feel no anguish over these issues, in which case I have completely misunderstood the purpose of the book.) I’d like to admit right here and now that I am often guilty of the same infelicity, and so feel to overlook the word choices made by Dew.  But these choices may indicate a mismatch in “standpoint”—it can be hard to reach someone with whom you feel you cannot relate, which is probably why the Savior had to suffer in the body all of our pains and sorrows.  We cannot expect the same, of course, from Dew or any other mortal, but “mourning with those who mourn” might lower barriers to meaningful conversation.

            But it is possible that Dew’s very position as CEO of Deseret Book may—paradoxically--rule this out.  We do not know what constraints, overt, implicit, or self-imposed, attend the first woman to ascend to such a position.  Is it even possible for Dew to mourn in public with women who feel disaffected over these issues? I suspect not.  As a result, I feel that Dew should be given the benefit of the doubt here, and we should look past these things to search for what is helpful in the message she sends in this book.

           In this spirit, two reviews of this book will be given.  First up will be the best reading of the book, emphasizing those parts of the book that, in this reviewer’s opinion, move the dialogue over women’s relationship to the Church forward in a truly helpful fashion.  Presented second will be the not-so-best reading of the book, which indicates how the book exhibits some of the same debilitating internal contradictions that mirror those of the contemporary LDS culture in which it was written.

The Best Reading
            Noting that a recent study of the attitudes of LDS women find that a “fair number” feel marginalized and that many feel there is no “safe place” to ask their questions, Dew states forthrightly, “Questions are good.  Questions lead to answers” (8) . . . [W]restling with spiritual questions is a fundamental element of a religious life.  It is an exercise that not only increases knowledge but strengthens faith.” (133) This is a healthy way to begin a discussion on issues that are contentious.  Too many women have self-silenced for fear that raising questions would mean they were faithless—or even apostate.  The sentiment expressed by Dew that “questions are good” will encourage women to not let such questions fester due to fear.

            And she goes further.  Dew says very important things that needed to be said by a well-placed woman in the LDS Church:            

“Our spirits long for us to remember the truth about who we are because the way we see ourselves affects everything we do (33) . . . The plan of happiness is pro-progression: thus the desire to progress is hardwired into our divine DNA.  Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we crave the feeling of moving forward, learning, growing, and improving, even if our steps forward are small and intermittent.  That is why the lack of even modest progress leads to disillusionment and discouragement, whereas steady progress instills peace of mind and optimism. (34) . . . Confusion about our identity can wreak havoc.  But clarity about who we are is empowering.” (44) . . . The first step . . . is understanding who we are, who we have always been, and who we may ultimately become.” (47)

            She is absolutely right, and this may explain why these issues of women and the priesthood are coming to the fore at this period of time.  There is a need for steady progress on these issues, and the confusion that women of the Church now endure is quickly becoming unendurable.  Women must understand who women are, who they have always been, and who they may ultimately become.  That which has been hidden for so long must now come into view, lest the havoc Dew foresees come to pass.  And Dew presciently suggests what must transpire for this to happen: “To receive revelation we haven’t yet received, we will likely need to seek in ways we haven’t sought before and do things we haven’t done . . . Our Father and His Son desire to shower gifts upon us, but we must ask.” (62-63).  With Dew, I believe that further light and knowledge is surely coming through revelation, but we must prepare ourselves to receive it, and most of all, we must be continually petitioning the Lord to grant unto us that knowledge which would answer women’s pained questions about womanhood.

            Next, Dew makes plain that the Latter-day Saints do not have a simplistic view of equality.  She rightly states, “If equality means that men and women are the same, then no, we don’t believe in equality.”  But she notes that there is no reason to be simplistic; we are capable of envisioning an equality between men and women that does not involve sameness.  After all, it was Satan’s plan that all of us be the same--as he--through the stripping-away of our agency.  We would all then be his “mini-me’s,” with no independent or distinguishing characteristics or thoughts, for he intends for us to be his slaves.  The Savior’s plan is the opposite: that we be one in purpose, but complete in our independent agency and liberty, a “vibrant orchestra,” in the words of Elder Perry, and to become His friends, not his slaves.  If we do not understand how we can be “joint heirs with Christ,” but all be different—that is, how we can be equal but not the same—then we do not understand Heaven.  It is Satanic to assert that equality can only be had on the condition of sameness, and anyone peddling that old lie should be viewed with the gravest suspicion. As Dew articulates the point,            

“The responsibilities, roles, and divinely endowed gifts of men and women differ in nature but not in quality, significance, or degree of importance, impact, or influence.  Latter-day Saint doctrine places women equal to, and yet distinct and different from, men” (23).

            Well said, indeed.

            Dew also offers hope on what she terms “organizational issues,” meaning the non-doctrinal elements of how the Church conducts its activities.  For example, she suggests, “there would seem to be ways in which the visibility and legitimate involvement of women in the Church could be enhanced,” and also that “changes in policy and administration, as distinguished from doctrine, are ongoing because the Restoration is ongoing” (8).  This is heartening indeed, and we hope that an examination of these things is already taking place at the highest levels, and that this examination includes soliciting the views of women themselves, including women who do feel marginalized and who do not believe that all is as it was meant to be in Zion. [1]  As Dew recounts the word of one bishop to a female leader, “It is our job to listen to you.” (49) Truer words were never spoken.

            Dew’s greatest contribution in this book, however, is her assertion that endowed women possess Godly power, or priesthood power. (103) She begins with a statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard that in the temple, both men and women are “endowed with the same power, which by definition is priesthood power.” (105) Dew goes on to state that once endowed, a woman has “direct access to priesthood power for her own life and responsibilities.” (114) Indeed, commenting on her personal situation, Dew notes, “As an unmarried but endowed woman . . . I do have access to priesthood power in my home.” (121) More generally, she comments that,

“Priesthood power . . . is the power of God Himself available to men and women alike . . . who have been endowed in the house of the Lord (122) . . . men and women who are endowed in the house of the Lord have been given a gift of power, and they have been given a gift of knowledge to know how to access and use that power.” (125)

            This is really a very remarkable assertion.  The formula has always been that women are the beneficiaries of priesthood power, and so only “share” it vicariously by being married to a man.  There are long-standing (and painful) jokes about women “holding the priesthood every night” when they go to bed with their husbands.  But Dew is plainly saying that endowed women have been given priesthood power in the temple, which power they can use to benefit others.  In other words, for the first time it is being articulated that women are not simply passive recipients of divine power that has been coded male, but are able to hold and use divine power as agents without a male intermediary. As Dew puts it, “Both men and women would have full access to this [heavenly] power, though in different ways.” (74).

            Just think about that for a moment.  Something important has shifted under our feet when the CEO of Deseret Book says this.

            And it’s also apparent that the term “priesthood” is being given two distinct meanings here, which I’ll call “Priesthood” and “priesthood.”  With a small “p,” priesthood is the path of apprenticeship of Heavenly Father’s sons to eventually become like Him.  With a capital “P,” Priesthood is path of God’s children to become like Them, and encompasses both the path of priesthood and the path of motherhood. (I believe this is echoed in the new YM and YW manuals which define priesthood with a small "p" as, "“the eternal power and authority of our Heavenly Father." That implies room for there to be an eternal power and authority of the divine feminine in the larger concept of Priesthood with a capital "P.")

            And Dew doesn’t stop with this one remarkable statement that women have Priesthood power.  She further asks, “[C]ould it be that the blessings of the oath and covenant of the priesthood [D&C 86:35-40] are just as efficacious in the lives of endowed, covenant-keeping women as they are for ordained men?” (129) Notice how close Dew is getting to suggesting that women have their own “hood” distinct from but very similar in terms of results to the “hood” coded male.  And she is prepared to get even closer:

“[W]omen, unlike men, are not required to be ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood in order to enter the house of the Lord, though the ordinances performed there are all priesthood ordinances.  Neither are women required to be ordained to the priesthood to serve as leaders in the Lord’s Church.  Why is that the case?” (109)

            Now, that’s an interesting question to pose, isn’t it?  It’s a question that points to its own answer, though that is apparently a bridge too far for Dew and she does not answer it in her book. I am very sympathetic to the direction Dew is taking here.  Women can come to possess divine power because they are created in the image of their Heavenly Mother who possesses divine power—a power that is one in purpose with the power of Heavenly Father, but which is not the same.

            Dew herself hints as much: “[T]he manner in which He authorizes the distribution of His authority and power throughout the earth is through priesthood keys.” (81; emphasis mine).  Like unto the definition of priesthood given in the new Young Men’s and Young Women’s manuals, notice that the priesthood is identified expressly with the authority and power and keys of Heavenly Father—not with the power and authority of “God,” as the previous definitions gave it.  We are beginning to see that Priesthood encompasses more than priesthood.  That is an important though easily-overlooked shift as well, because we know that there is no “God” without there being an exalted man and an exalted woman married in the new and everlasting covenant. (D&C 132).  The new definition leaves room for there to be authority and power and keys that belong to Heavenly Mother—the other “hood,” if you will, in the universe.  Women are not required to be ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood to enter the temple because women were already ordained in our own “hood” (probably premortally, which might help explain the difference in conditionality pronounced upon men and women in the washing and anointing ceremony in the temple).  Priesthood with a capital “P” encompasses more than priesthood with a small “p,” and so we can begin to see how women hold Priesthood power, even if they do not hold priesthood power, because they have their own “hood” entitling them to divine power.

            That other “hood” we call motherhood, though you might just as easily call it priestesshood.  It is the apprenticeship of Heavenly Mother’s daughters to become like Her, just as the priesthood is the apprenticeship of Heavenly Father’s sons to become like Him.  And that is why it makes no sense to “ordain women” to priesthood office—they have already been ordained to Priesthood office.  The seeds of this understanding are visible, but it will take much preparation before those seeds can become what they were meant to be among our people.

            One element of that preparation is to “re-see” motherhood, and Dew also has much to contribute on this score.  We do not yet have the language we need as a people to do this well, but Dew offers glimpses of the way forward.  For example, she suggests, “Motherhood in its doctrinal sense can only fully be exercised upon principles of righteousness—much the same as priesthood authority—and can be understood and exercised by all righteous women, not just those who have the privilege of bearing children in this life.” (139) Again, well said.  Motherhood is a form of divine authority—a Priesthood authority.  Furthermore, it is not equivalent to biological motherhood, though biological motherhood can be its most exquisite expression in this life.

            Dew turns to Elder Matthew Cowley to attempt to describe the nature of that motherhood authority:          

“[M]en have to have something given to them [in mortality] to make them saviors of men, but not mothers, not women. You are born with an inherent right, an inherent authority, to be the saviors of human souls . . . by a right divine . . . you’re the saviors and regenerating force in the lives of God’s children here upon the earth.” (142)

            Dew comments on this quotation, saying, “Mothers heal the souls of men. They not only give life—they breathe life into all who come under their mothering influence . . . The future of mankind is in the hands of mothers.” (153-154) Though these are but first steps towards developing a new language with which to express the power, authority, and keys of motherhood, they are important steps to have taken, and we are grateful to Dew for being willing to take them.

            If you believed—really believed—that motherhood was a “hood” with keys, authority, and power from your Mother in Heaven, would your reaction be different to a statement like the following, that would normally be seen as a trite, cringe-inducing platitude?: “Women are integral to building up the kingdom of God on earth. And they are also vital to its success.” (87) I must say, it feels different to me if the context is keys, authority, and power from the divine feminine.  Such a statement no longer seems like meaningless treacle designed to distract me from real inequality; now it seems like an acknowledgement of a profound truth.

            Indeed, I think Dew hits the nail on the head: “It may well be that some of the most defining tests of mortality involve issues that swirl around gender, including how men feel about and treat women; how women feel about and treat men; how men feel about manhood and women about womanhood . . . “ (113). Unless women can see who they really are, and who She is, we will have pain, mischief, and havoc, and the entire human family will suffer for it.

            I believe that vision will come; indeed, Dew’s book encourages me that it is already on its way.  Heaven must be pleased at how these issues are increasingly being engaged within our faith community, for as Talmage put it, “the world’s greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ.” (94) I cannot help but picture all the inhabitants of Heaven waiting with bated breath for the moment Dew describes: “I believe that the moment we learn to unleash the full influence of converted, covenant-keeping women, the kingdom of God will change overnight.” (163).

            That full influence will finally be unleashed in these latter days as we live for and petition for and prepare for the further light and knowledge that will surely come on these matters.


The Not-So-Best Reading
            There is still another reading of Dew’s book that foregrounds many of the deep internal contradictions within LDS culture over the question of women.  For example, it is very difficult to take seriously a book entitled Women and the Priesthood in which the author announces on the very second page, “I am not a feminist.”

            What must the term “feminist” mean to Sheri Dew that she feels the need to say this right up front?  And does she understand that she loses much of the younger generation of LDS women by saying this?

            Feminism asserts that women and men stand before each other as equals, that women and men are of equal worth, that they should be paid equally for doing the same job, that they should have equal voice and equal say in the councils of human decision-making.  By this standard, every single Latter-day Saint, male and female, is a feminist. Indeed, I remain a member of the LDS Church because I am a feminist. Upon reading this opening statement by Dew, I thought to myself, the term “feminist” must be code to Sheri Dew for something entirely different, and she is making a coded statement to some particular audience to set them at ease.  Doubtless she felt her words would therby enjoy greater legitimacy in the eyes of that particular audience, but she paid an immense cost as well—for that audience is not the readership she intends to reach.  One of my brightest former students, a happily married professional woman with young children and a strong testimony, alerted me to the book before Deseret Book sent me a copy, and this was her reaction:            

“I get what she is trying to do but I read an excerpt and she declares in no uncertain terms that she is not a feminist.  And at that point she lost me.  When did feminism become only equated with girls behaving badly as they eschew traditional values like in Sex and the City (her reference, not mine)?  I want to take back this term and own it the way I think it should be owned, rather than the way it is currently packaged by . . . conservatives.”

            Even if Dew could not bring herself to self-describe as a feminist, it would have been far better to have just left that sentence out entirely, because the code she is working from is not currently in use by the younger generations of LDS women and men.  Thus the code isn’t being translated correctly anymore, and so her statement comes across as simultaneously incoherent and polarizing.

            Another issue that arises in LDS culture with reference to women is the issue of polygamy.  Dew acknowledges and dismisses it in one paragraph in the first few pages of the book, stating that polygamy is now grounds for excommunication. (5)  We know this book is not about polygamy, and so acknowledgement that this is even an issue for LDS women  is welcome in that context.  However, to leave it at excommunication for current practice seems a bit disingenuous.  What women are worried about is polygamy in the hereafter.   It could not be more obvious that Dew has purposefully side-stepped what women are really concerned about. This is somewhat disconcerting: why raise it just to side-step it?  If I were an LDS woman worried about polygamy in the hereafter (I’m not, because scripture clearly states polygamy is an Abrahamic sacrifice, with all that that appellation entails), I think this maneuver would make me more anxious, not less.

            Unfortunately, the side-stepping is not confined to this polygamy tangent.  It affects the central issue of the book—women and the priesthood:
            “Why aren’t women eligible for priesthood ordination, anyway? . . . [W]e don't know.” (106)
            “Why has the Lord organized His Church in this manner?  I don’t know.” (124)

            Acknowledging that some “are troubled because within the Church’s hierarchical structure, men ultimately control everything” (110)—a rather amazing statement, that last—Dew is thus left unable to tell women so troubled what to do with those feelings, except not to have them, because “we don’t know” what we would have to know to make sense of the situation.

            In her introduction, Dew presents seven truths about women that she can “declare with certainty,” including that women have a divine errand, women are vital to the success of the Lord’s Church, and other similar assertions. (12-13)  I was personally astonished to discover that the foundational truth that women and men stand before each other as equals in the sight of God was nowhere to be found on that list.  I was astonished because it seems to me that our General Authorities have made this teaching very plain over the last several years; this is not a controversial assertion any longer, and Dew includes many quotations from them on this very topic.  Yet this great truth does not make the list of truths that Sheri Dew knows about women: what does this mean?

            Another astonishing absence in this volume is that of our Mother in Heaven.  In a 174 page book on women and the priesthood, one waits until page 150 for the very first mention of the divine Woman who it is our destiny as women to become.  Heavenly Mother is similarly side-stepped in a one-page treatment where the conclusion is, “One could conjecture about why our Father in Heaven has elected not to reveal much about our Mother in Heaven.  But the truth is that we don’t know.”  (151). 

            I think at this point I was ready to cry.  It is as if we have this incredible, beautiful present from our Mother sitting right in the room, and inside it lies the very balm needed to heal the souls of her daughters, and we tip-toe around it as if it weren’t even there. Even one of the most preeminent women in the Church will not touch that gift with a ten foot pole. It brought to mind a quote from Joseph Smith that Dew had used for a different purpose earlier in the volume:            

“Elder Heber C. Kimball said Joseph Smith experienced . . . frustration: ‘The greatest torment [the Prophet Joseph] had and the greatest mental suffering was because this people would not live up to their privileges . . . He said that sometimes that he felt . . . as though he were pent up in an acorn shell, and all because the people . . . would not prepare themselves to receive the rich treasures of wisdom and knowledge that he had to impart. He could have revealed a great many things to us if we had been ready; but he said there were many things that we could not receive because we lacked that diligence . . . necessary to entitle us to those choice things of the kingdom.” (55-56)

            In a book that extols motherhood as “the single most crucial assignment related to our Father’s children fulfilling their mission on earth” (144), it is positively jarring to see how our Mother becomes a complete cipher.  In this respect, the book perfectly parallels one of the long-standing contradictions of LDS culture—motherhood is apparently so wonderful that our Mother is missing.  I have never understood that glaring disconnect.  Read these sentences with me and see if you feel what is missing:

            “Our Father knows us by name and by attribute.  He watched us grow and learn, made choices and progress premortally.  He knows our hearts, our weaknesses and strengths . . . and our potential . . . He loved us completely and perfectly.” (36)

            “I want to be in the presence of the Father and Son and be able to learn from Them forever.” (159)

            “Motherhood is not what was left over after our Father blessed His sons with the privilege of priesthood ordination.  It was the most ennobling endowment He could give His daughters . . . “ (143)

            These sentences are all true, of course, and no doubt virtually all LDS women could claim them as their own.  But in a book entitled Women and the Priesthood, a book that quotes President Heber J. Grant approvingly when he said, “the mother in the family far more than the father is the one who instills into the hearts of the children a testimony and love of the gospel . . . She shapes their lives more than the father,” (138), it strikes this reader as inconceivable that there is no recognition evinced that our Mother also loves us completely and perfectly, that women may wish to be in the presence of more than male deities forever, and that our Father did not give motherhood to His daughters because He isn’t capable of endowing someone with something He does not possess—only our Mother could endow Her daughters with the motherhood She possesses.

            Again, Dew cannot be faulted for mirroring the strange disconnect within LDS culture on these issues, but I wish she had decided not to do so.  I wish instead she had expressed what we all know as women and as mothers—that we do have a Mother, a powerful Mother, who loves us fiercely and wants us to become as She is, who wants to communicate with us, and who longs for the day when we are reunited with Her.

            Dew’s book also inherits the other long-standing contradiction within LDS culture on the subject of women—if women, through the exercise of motherhood, are so powerful and wise and wonderful and insightful as all the many quotes from General Authorities that Dew organizes for us claim, it makes even less sense that, as Dew puts it, “within the Church . . . men control everything.” (110)

            In addition to the Heber J. Grant quote mentioned above, Dew gives us quote after quote about motherhood’s power and influence: “there is nothing more important in this world” (Elder Holland; 138); “the highest, holiest service” (First Presidency; 142), “the noblest office or calling in the world” (President McKay; 143); and about mothers themselves, “she is not equal to man; she is superior!  She can do that which he can never do; not in all eternity can he do it” (Elder Packer; 144); “the greatest teaching in the Church is done by mothers” (Elder Packer; 145).

            These quotes are moving and poignant, but raise the question of why all this wisdom and power is not being included in every decision-making council, including those at the highest levels of the Church.  An observer might be forgiven for suggesting that every husband and wife in a good temple marriage know more about how the two halves of humanity were meant to work in equal partnership than does the contemporary LDS Church as an institution.  In a good marriage, husband and wife share their insights and their wisdom with each other as equals with equal opportunity to offer counsel, and they pool their powers and talents to the good of the family.  And when a decision is made, they make it unanimously, with equal opportunity to give consent or to withhold it.

            Perhaps the answer is that the Church is not a joint project between men and women, but between men and God, with women assisting.  In that case, however, since Dew points out that Elder Ballard has taught that “just as a woman cannot conceive a child without a man, so a man cannot fully exercise the power of the priesthood . . . without a woman” (107), that would mean procreation is not a joint project between men and women, either, but rather between women and God, with men assisting.  If we are not prepared to say the latter, why are we prepared to say the former?  ‘Tis truly a puzzlement.

            As a result, it is hard not to conclude that the book Women and the Priesthood actually leaves us with more questions on the subject than we had before reading it.  While that surely was not the author’s intent, perhaps that is ultimately to the good.  Perhaps we are busy “preparing ourselves to receive the rich treasures of wisdom and knowledge” that lie in store for us as the sons and daughters of our Heavenly Parents, and that preparation involves raising questions that will need to be answered for us to move forward as a faith community. And for assisting in that great preparation and making a truly important contribution concerning how women have been given the gift of Priesthood power, we owe Sheri Dew a sincere vote of thanks.


[1] Unfortunately, Dew herself offers no suggestions for changes in policy and administration herself in this book. We hope she will consider doing so in a follow-up volume. [Back to manuscript].

Full Citation for this Article: Hudson Valerie M. (2013) "Book Review: Women and the Priesthood by Sheri Dew," SquareTwo, Vol. 6 No. 3 (Fall), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleHudsonDewBookReview.html, <give access date>

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COMMENTS: 1 Comment

1) Laurie Chambers Bate, West Valley City, Utah

Thank you for your thoughtful review.

I have found that I must take my questions directly to Heavenly Father in prayer.  I am convinced that my doing so is the only reason I remain in the church.  He guides me to stay in the church even when he does not directly answer my questions.  I have observed that our questions often take us away from Heavenly Father, when He would rather they took us closer to Him.  When I see those I love take their questions to mortals instead of to Heavenly Father, I also see that doing so takes them away from Heavenly Father and His church, and that makes me feel sad.  But I understand it.  And lest you think my questions have been small, on three occasions my reason made me ready to forsake the church altogether due to the depth and distress of that which is incongruent in the church.  I am convinced that any rationally minded person would leave the church and that the only difference between those who do and those who don't is that some choose faith.

I was a teen when I recognized that there are vast differences between doctrine, policy, and practice.  It was then I started reading the scriptures for doctrine only in order to decipher between the three. Unfortunately, many behave that policy and practice are gospel doctrine. To illustrate with a lightweight absurdity:  Male temple workers must be clean shaven.  That is only true in some temple districts.  It is certainly not true in all temple districts.  Therefore it is not a truth at all.  Yet there are those leaders who instantly disqualify mustached male members from worthiness to serve in the temple because of their facial hair.  Absurd.  But as with all absurdities, we may chose angst or amusement.  I find myself often shaking my head and chuckling because my Heavenly Father conveys to me that this too shall pass; that there are profound reasons to stay the course, to recognize that I, too, in some ways am just like all these other "bumbling children in our Father's workshop" (credit for that to Eugene England).

Our peace will not come from our church leaders, male and female.  Peace will only come from our Heavenly Father.  Let us go to Him.